Ancient/Classical History Study Guides

Overviews, fast facts, timelines, important people, important topics

Are you looking for an ancient history study guide for Caesar, Cleopatra, Alexander the Great? How about Greek tragedy or The Odyssey? Here is a collection of study guides on these and other topics in Ancient/Classical history. For individual items, you may find biographies, bibliographies, specialized terms to know, timelines, other people who were important, occasionally, self-grading quizzes, and more. They are not meant to replace research into the writing of ancient historians, poets, and playwrights, but they should give you a leg up as you begin your own study.
aqueductsegovia.jpg
The roman aqueduct (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in Segovia, built between the second half of the 1st Century AD and the early years of the 2nd Century, Autonomous Community of Castilla Leon, Spain, March 2012. (Photo by Cristina Arias/Cover/Getty Images)

Here are topics that have been studied in the past by students of Roman history, with hyperlinks to articles about each of them. There is a related study guide for Greek History.

Also see Roman History Questions  -- a list of questions to help guide your reading of Roman history. More »

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A piece of a votive relief, dated in 500-490 B.C., depicting an enthroned Godess in her temple as two worshippers approach, is displayed in the hall of Greek National Archaeological Museum on August 31, 2006, Athens, Greece. As part of a deal to send back illegally removed antiquities, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles returned two ancient artifacts. (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)
This article lists the major gods and goddesses from Greek mythology believed to have lived on Mount Olympus, as well as other types of Greek and Roman immortals (di immortales). There are also articles comparing Greek myth with legend and religion. More »
Theater of Miletus (4th Century B.C.).
Theater of Miletus (4th Century B.C.). It was expanded during Roman Period and increased its seating, going from 5,300-25,000 spectators. CC Flickr User bazylek100.

Greek theater was not just an art form. It was a component of the civic and religious life of ancient people, best known from the plays produced for Athens. Here you'll find:

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Trojan War Heroes
Image ID: 1624208The heroes of Troy. (1882). NYPL Digital Gallery

Tackling either of the major works attributed to Homer, The Iliad or The Odyssey, can be a bit daunting. It is my hope that this study guide will help. There are 24 divisions known as books in each epic. This Odyssey study guide contains the following items for each of the books:

  • a summary
  • notes on aspects of the book that may be of interest or need some explanation,
  • the cast of major characters, and
  • a quiz that closely follows the specific book of the Odyssey.
Although less elaborate, you may appreciate this Iliad study guide. More »
Athlete With Gloves or Himantes. Attic Red-Figure Amphora, ca. 490 B.C.
Athlete With Gloves or Himantes. Attic Red-Figure Amphora, ca. 490 B.C. Pankration Research Institute
Although not actually a study guide, this 101-page on the ancient Olympics gives you a lot of background and leads to related articles on the ancient Greek games. More »
Alexander the Great Coin
Alexander the Great Coin. CC Flickr User brewbooks

The Macedonian conqueror who died at the age of 33 after having spread the culture of Greece all the way to India is one of the two or three most important figures to know about in the ancient world. Here you'll find:

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Julius Caesar. Marble, mid-first century A.D., discovery on the island of Pantelleria.
Julius Caesar. Marble, mid-first century A.D., discovery on the island of Pantelleria. CC Flickr User euthman
Julius Caesar may have been the greatest man of all times. He was born in July of 100 B.C. and died March 15, 44 B.C., which date is known as the Ides of March. This study guide contains: More »
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Marble statue of Cleopatra from the Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.
Marble statue of Cleopatra from the Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. CC Flickr User Kyle Rush

Cleopatra fascinates us although we really have limited and biased information about her. She was an important figure politically in the final years of the Roman Republic and her death and that of her lover Mark Antony's heralded the coming of the period known as the Roman Empire. Here you will find:

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Alaric

Sack of Rome in 410 by Alaric the King of the Goths. Miniature from 15th Century.
Sack of Rome in 410 by Alaric the King of the Goths. Miniature from 15th Century. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Gothic (barbarian) Alaric is important in terms of the Fall of Rome because he actually sacked the city. Here you'll find:

  • Overview
  • Important Facts About Alaric
  • Timeline
  • Study Guide
  • Terms
  • Alaric Quiz
Oedipus and the Sphinx, by Gustave Moreau (1864)
Oedipus and the Sphinx, by Gustave Moreau (1864). CC euthman @ Flickr.com.

The story of the mother-loving, father-murdering, riddle-solving king of Thebes named Oedipus became the basis for a psychological complex known as the Oedipal complex. Read about the people and the dramatic story as told by the Greek tragedian Sophocles:

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Pentheus' Sparagmos - Pompeii - Casa dei Vettii
Pentheus' Sparagmos. Roman fresco from the northern wall of the triclinium in the Casa dei Vettii in Pompeii. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Euripides' tragedy 'The Bacchae' tells part of the legend of Thebes, featuring Pentheus and his filicidal mother. In this study guide, you'll find:

Also see Seven Against Thebes Summary and Study Guide (Aeschylus) More »